Paco’s Story

Winner, National Book Awards 1987 for Fiction

cover of Paco's Story by Heinemann

photo of Larry Heinemann
Larry Heinemann

Larry Heinemann was born and raised in Chicago. He served a tour of duty with the 25th Division in Vietnam. In the past he has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the William Fulbright Scholarship Program. More about this author >

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Paco Sullivan is the only man in Alpha Company to survive a cataclysmic Viet Cong attack on Fire Base Harriette in Vietnam. Everyone else is annihilated. When a medic finally rescues Paco almost two days later, he is waiting to die, flies and maggots covering his burnt, shattered body. He winds up back in the US with his legs full of pins, daily rations of Librium and Valium, and no sense of what to do next. One evening, on the tail of a rainstorm, he limps off the bus and into the small town of Boone, determined to find a real job and a real bed—but no matter how hard he works, nothing muffles the anguish in his mind and body. Brilliantly and vividly written, Paco’s Story—winner of a National Book Award—plunges you into the violence and casual cruelty of the Vietnam War, and the ghostly aftermath that often dealt the harshest blows.

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